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Accused in buggery charge remanded

Charges stem from 1971 incident; Canada's buggery law struck down in 1988

Roger Bazin has been charged with buggery, a now-abolished law.

In a pre-trial Barrie court on June 23, a former chief Roman Catholic Canadian Forces chaplain facing seven charges, including buggery, had his charges remanded for the third time.

Defendant Roger Bazin, 73, was not present nor was his Winnipeg lawyer, Sheldon Pinx.

The charges against Bazin stem from a 1972 incident involving a teenaged boy when Baz was a young Roman Catholic chaplain and captain at Canadian Forces Base Borden. He was later promoted to serve as Canada’s top military chaplain general before retiring in 1995.

In 1972, buggery was still considered a criminal offence under the Canadian Criminal Code. Since Canada’s buggery law is now defunct, there are many questions about whether or not the charge applied against Bazin is relevant in today’s legal measures. That’s because at the time of the offence in 1972 Canada’s military police were not able to arrest or prosecute in cases of sexual assault, military officials admitted at the time of Bazin’s February 2010 arrest.

Canada inherited its buggery law — which covers both anal sex and bestiality — from Britain. In 1969, the law was relaxed to exclude consensual sex if both partners were over the age of 21. In 1988, the buggery law was scrapped altogether and replaced with a prohibition on anal sex with people under the age of 18. That law has been struck down in several jurisdictions, including Ontario, because it sets a different age of consent for gay sex, 18, than straight sex, 16.

“At the time of the offence allegedly committed by retired Brigadier-General Bazin, the military justice system did not have jurisdiction over this type of offence,” a spokesperson told Xtra.

The alleged victim came forward in June 2009, causing the military police to investigate. Bazin was arrested in February. Currently, he is residing in Manitoba with his 78-year-old sister.

The current chaplain general, Brigadier-General David Kettle, said in a Feb 16 statement:

“I am aware of charges brought against retired Brigadier-General Roger Bazin, former chaplain general, for what was then the Roman Catholic Chaplain Branch of the Canadian Forces. As the present chaplain general, I was shocked by these allegations. I take very seriously the charges laid against a former chaplain general for alleged actions committed while serving as a unit chaplain in 1972.”

The next Barrie court appearance to determine when Bazin will go to trial is scheduled for July 21.